The back to school season always brings forth a range of emotions. I have loads of excitement wrapped in some anxiety and topped off with whole new sense of opportunity. Here’s the problem: I also have this incredible ability to get excited about nearly everything. And let me tell you, this is quite problematic given the million and one directions that life pulls me (and really, everyone) in.
As I spent more and more time thinking about living with intention and keeping grounded, I stumbled upon a post by Peter Bregman in the Harvard Business Review where he talks about making a positive and meaningful transition from vacation to work/school mode. Points to ponder:
1. Who are you at your best?
Before you listen to that first voicemail, sit quietly for a minute, and think about what you most liked about yourself on vacation. Was it the relaxed way you listened to the people you were with? Maybe it was the time you allowed your mind to wander? Perhaps it was the way you immersed yourself in each moment because you weren’t distracted by constantly checking email on your phone? Maybe it was your patience, your generosity, or the ease with which you slipped into laughter? The busier we get, the less we cultivate the aspects of ourselves we value so deeply because they aren’t necessarily efficient. But they are us — possibly some of the most important parts — and leaving them back can diminish who we are. Which weakens us, reducing our energy, creativity, and effectiveness. Not to mention our pleasure. The solution? Become less efficient. Which means you will get less done. Which, ironically, will make you more productive, as long as you choose the right things to get done.2. What Is your focus for the year?
In order to get the right things done, we need a filter to help us decide what not to get done. Identify the most important things you want to focus on for the year. Every year I choose five major things on which I want to spend 95% of my time.
My five things form a lens through which I focus on the world. Without them, everything would be a blur. With them, I can distinguish what’s important — and worth my time and attention — from what’s not. Before touching a post-vacation email, look at your list of five and connect with the priorities that will make this year productive, meaningful, and fulfilling for you. Remind yourself what’s important.
Most of us would have by now jumped back into the swing of things, but it’s never too late to take a moment; living without focus is simply existing.
May the force be with you as you take on a whole new year of goodness.